The War that we Need to Win

Today on ANZAC Day Australia remembers those who die, and serve, to protect the freedoms which have made our country great. We remember every son, daughter, mother, father, husband, wife… Each fallen hero represents a hole that was made in the intricate web of society.

I think especially of those haunted by the horrors of war, or those for whom the pang of loss are still fresh, deep and treacherous. Thank you for your service or the service of your loved ones. Thank you for paying all that it cost. May we always remember and honour them, the living and the dead, always. May we remember those they left behind, and do our best to ensure that as we were protected, so we protect. As they kept our families safe, may we do likewise.

It’s time that Australia wins a war, the silent war of attrition against returning veterans. More resources need to be put into medical provision.

In 2016 the former Chief of Army Peter Leahy said,

“The number of suicides and the incidence of despair, depression and broken lives among our veteran community is a national shame.”

A recent study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that 80% found that 80% of current ADF members described their experience of those [suicide] services as fair, good, very good or excellent. (Note current members; the suicide rate for former members is 13% higher). Note also that means 20% of the survey respondents found it less than fair.

We should not ask so much of our men and women, and then penny-pinch to stop them getting the help they need. We should not ask them to brutalise their minds and bodies, and then expect them to jump through hoops to get the medical support they need.

I am all for budget-repair as a priority, but let’s not take the money off of those who have earned it. Find some other lower hanging fruit, there’s plenty out there.

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ANZAC Day 2016

The ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) tradition, celebrated on April 26th each year, goes beyond just the bloody and failed landing at Gallipoli in 1915. It is a day where the country honours all Australians who served in war, both the living and the dead.

The men and women, whether drafted by a desperate Government or choosing to confront a menacing foe were willing to lay down their lives at the country’s call. They’ve gone our, again and again, to endure hardship, death and loss for civilians, abroad or at home.

They knew what the cost could be to themselves and to those they loved, but they went anyway. Though fearful they may have been they went with resolve that was sacrificial. They went to defend their country and to watch over their mates in the ranks.Some of them came home, but war leaves its mark nevertheless.

My grandfather served during World War 2 and was one of those who got to return home. In my young memory I remember him speaking of it only a handful of times, a comical story here or there of young men being larrikins and subsequent missing jeeps. On one or two occasions he spoke seriously about the war for a few minutes before his eyes would tear up and the conversation would end abruptly.

No one should have to endure the ravages of war, witness the horrors or the loss. But living in reality, some inevitably must.

We owe it to our “diggers”, currently serving, that they get the best in training and equipment. And when they leave the service, through injury or age we should continue to honour them by looking after them well and holistically.

In a time when the Australian fiscal position has probably never been worse, I understand it is hard politically.

Our priority should be on safeguarding those who safeguarded us.